I’m particular about the temperature of my coffee. I don’t like it too hot, otherwise it scalds my tongue and the roof of my mouth and turns the taste bitter and, to me, undrinkable. So I usually wait until it cools down a bit—not so cold that I can’t still savor it, but cool enough that it retains enough of its comforting warmth without the burn.
Sometimes I’m in a rush and drop in an ice cube or two, which is a little like a game of chance. One cube doesn’t quite do the trick, but two makes it a bit too chilly. The best method, though a bit more time-consuming, is to stir my coffee with a metal spoon, periodically lifting the spoon into the air to cool off, then dipping it to stir once more. Perfection in a cup.
I know this spoon method is the best way, yet I’m often in a rush and don’t want to take the time to do it right. But when I force myself to slow down, have patience, and use the spoon, I’m always much happier.
Right now with the rapid spread of the coronavirus, our society is in a forced period of slowing down. Events are canceled, and plans are tenuous at best. No one knows when the world will return to “normal,” or whether it truly will. In my community, restaurants are closed for everything except takeout, and servers and others who work in that industry are finding themselves suddenly without jobs—and income. It’s much the same for childcare workers and others who rely on in-person engagement. “Now what?” many are asking. “Where do we go from here?”
I don’t know the answers, and only God sees the full picture here. But I do know that if I let my anxious, rash heart calm down and patiently embrace the now, God’s glory can shine brighter through my hopeful patience.
Patience is defined as being able to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. That’s easier to have when you’ve not suddenly found yourself jobless and reliant on others thanks to a pandemic, or when you’re not worried, but imagine the early church and what its people had to face when they, too, were told to settle down and wait for the good things God would surely make happen.
I’m sure the disciples had a ton of questions! There they were, following Jesus day after day, trying their best to interpret sometimes-cryptic parables and miracles and what they might mean about who Jesus was and what He was doing, but they had to be baffled and restless—maybe even frustrated.
But as Jesus told His disciples in John 13:7 after He—yes, He!—washed their feet, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (NIV).
In fact, time and again the Bible depicts a restless people eager for something to occur: their salvation from slavery in Egypt, the day they’d finally see the promised land, the day they’d get rescued from Babylon or this or that evil king. When Jesus came, they were still restless! “When is He going to make His move and show those jerk Pharisees who’s in charge?” I imagine they asked.
Even after Jesus was crucified and then resurrected, the church was restless—how long do we have to wait until Christ comes again? Will it be in my lifetime? My children’s?
Just wait, we are told. Have hope, experience joy in the suffering, be patient, and all will be well.
Some days, we are eager to be done with the quarantines and the restrictions brought on because of the coronavirus. We grow restless for the future, when we can go to concerts, worship services, shopping malls, and sporting events again.
If that’s you today, take heart: in God’s time. Just wait, be patient, take a breath, and meditate on these Bible verses:
- 2 Chronicles 15:7, “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”
- Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
- Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
- Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
- Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
- Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
- Hebrews 10:36, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
- James 5:8, “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”
As for me, I’ll strive to be patient, both as I wait on the Lord and as I stir my coffee with a spoon. God bless you, friends!